Central Illinois resident Denise Kozell keeps one main objective in her mind as she grooms man’s best friend.

“How would I want my dog treated?” she asked.

She and her husband own three mini schnauzers — BlackJack, Max and Angel.
With more than 10 years of experience under her belt, Kozell opened Mutt-Cuts Doggie Spa & School Tuesday at 300 W. Pine St.

She knows all about keeping tresses looking beautiful for dog owners as well. She has been a licensed cosmetologist for more than 25 years, running a hair salon in Pontiac for eight years.

Kozell looked around the area, including Bloomington, Pontiac and surrounding areas, but chose Chillicothe to open her shop.

“I wanted a hometown feeling near a big city,” said Kozell.

Each grooming includes a blueberry facial, which she says is important because the soap will not hurt the dog’s eyes. Most soap is too harsh for dog’s eyes, stripping the first layer and leaving them susceptible to cataracts, she said. The soap also cleans their teeth when they lick it.

She pulls the hair out of the dog’s ears if needed, brushes their teeth, expresses their anals, and clips and uses a dremel on their toenails.

“It’s not just about grooming to me, it’s about health,” said Kozell, who also holds a veterinarian assistant certification.

The dog receives a full grooming, is fluff dried, cologne of the parent’s choice and a bow or bandana.

Prices range from $35 to $95 depending on the size of the dog.

While her services include a full grooming, she does invite residents to stop by and talk to her if they are having any grooming issues.

She also offers a three-month course for grooming school at her location. Kozell only will take two students at a time, who will initially watch her and learn for the first month, and then help her with her clients.

“I specialize in not traumatizing dogs,” said Kozell.

She sees many cases of traumatized dogs as she is an investigator with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

With a law enforcement background, Kozell has worked in corrections and as a county deputy.

She combines all of her background into dog grooming, in which she must be stern at times with the dogs.

Ultimately, though, she wants the dogs to wag their tails when they see her.

Kozell is also teaching a five-week dog grooming class for puppy owners at Heartland College in Bloomington/Normal.

Cat grooming is also available but does not include a bath.

Appointments can be made by calling (815) 822-5226.

Hours are from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday.

A grand opening is planned for 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. March 15. Everyone in attendance will receive a free gift and possibly win a prize.